SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Danielle DeCarlo, a member of South Plainfield High School’s (SPHS) Class of 2020, recently signed a letter of intent to play softball for Division 3 Montclair State this fall. 

“It was my first and only choice,” DeCarlo, who will serve as co-captain of the high school varsity softball team this season and plans to major in early education at Montclair, told TAPinto South Plainfield. “I am excited to play at the next level.”

DeCarlo first picked up a bat at the age of eight, and spent several years playing travel ball with the South Plainfield Ponytail League. She played second base in seventh and eighth grade for the middle school and, since her freshman year, has played first base for the high school’s varsity team. In 2017, she was a member of the state championship team. 

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For DeCarlo, the opportunity to play softball for the remainder of her high school career – let alone in college – hit a snag in the summer of 2018 when she was diagnosed with skin cancer in her leg. She underwent two surgeries at Sloan Kettering Memorial and months of rehab, missing both her summer and fall travel ball seasons. 

“She couldn’t play for a while. It took her away from the game and, to get back into it, took time,” said DeCarlo’s mother, Debbie, noting that even though her daughter couldn’t play ‘she never once turned her back on her team.’ 

“She still went to every game and every practice and sat on the bench. It killed her that she couldn’t play, but she was persistent. That, along with her bravery and perseverance through the whole cancer episode, is what impressed me the most.”

“She was so brave and tough through the whole process, and I am so proud of her. It was an intense situation and all she wanted to do was play softball again,” said DeCarlo’s father, Mike.

DeCarlo did, in fact, battle back, returning to the SPHS team and settling back into her position at first base. Batting fourth, she finished her 2019 season with a.446 batting average and led the team with 37 hits, 7 doubles, 3 home runs, and 24 RBIs. Additionally, last year, she was named All Division as the best first baseman out of the seven other teams and will finish her softball career at SPHS as four-year Varsity Letter winner.

“Batting over .400 at the high school varsity level is outstanding and playing fourth in the line up is a big spot to be in. We face a lot of good pitchers in the county and the state, and she did a phenomenal job,” said Donald Panzarella, head coach of the SPHS Varsity Softball Team. 

“We’ve had a lot of good players here in South Plainfield, and she is right up there with them … She is a true clutch player and her work ethic is outstanding,” added Panzarella. “She is a great kid who is going to be an asset to the Montclair State program. We are going to miss her here.”

“It has always been a goal of mine to play in college but I didn’t think I would,” said DeCarlo. “It’s exciting now that it’s here, it’s possible, it’s happening. I am looking forward to this new adventure.”

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